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Camel Racing in the United Arab Emirates

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Camel Racing prospered from a ritual to an attractive and lucrative profession.

Camels have been a prominent and important feature in United Arab Emirates (UAE) history. As a gift from God to the Bedouins, camels have been a vital source of life for thousands of years, where they have been used for food, transportation, and even clothing. They were used as a source of help for man in tasks like loading supplies during long nomadic travels, and it was also given to a Bedouin bride as part of her dowry.

The camel is known as the ‘ship of the desert’ due to its smooth walking movements in the desert sands, but its true power lies in its racing abilities. In the sand, a racing camel can outrun the fastest racehorse. Until today, camel racing is one of the most well-organized, popular traditional national sports which attract a mass number of spectators whether they are ordinary people or wealthy ruling families.

Established in 1992, the Emirates Camel Racing Federation manages and regulates camel racing events in the UAE. Between the months from October till March is the camel racing season. It is held on weekend mornings in modern racetracks, with cash prize awards reaching up to millions of Dirhams. In 2002, it effectively banned the practice of using child jockeys, replacing them with proper remote-controlled robot jockeys.

From the local owners and breeders to the Sheikhs who pay millions for the winning camels, the cultural past time of the U.A.E has rapidly gained momentum and turned into a lucrative business. As a tradition by their forefathers, the heritage is continually passed down through the Emirati generations. It is appreciated by people of all nationalities with free entry to the event held every year.

For more information on camel racing schedules for this year, visit the ‘Visit Abu Dhabi‘ website.

                                                                                                              Mohammed Al Ameri

Edited by Mohammed Al Ameri
Clips courtesy YouTube
Music: “Camel Race” by Barnaby Taylor & The BBC Concert Orchestra

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